US$53 million compensation paid to white former farmers – govt

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By Thandiwe Garusa

GOVERNMENT has paid some 100 former white farm owners US$53 million in line with its pledges to compensate them for improvements on their expropriated land.

During his 2020 budget presentation last month, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said he had set aside $380 million to compensate mainly former white farmers who lost their land during former President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic land reform programme which started in the early 2000s.

Speaking to journalists during this week’s post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said US$53 million has already been paid.

“Pertaining to relief payment to former farm owners, Treasury has since released US$53 million and a hundred former white farmers have been compensated,” said Mutsvangwa.

The move is part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s undertaking to appease angry white farmers who lay claim to tracts of farmland seized by the State under the controversial land reform programme.

Government is luring international institutions to finance the compensation programme.

Before the land reform process, Zimbabwe used to be regarded as the breadbasket of Sub Saharan Africa but is now struggling to feed its population of around 16 million.

Poor and opaque investments in agriculture under various schemes since the land reform started, plus recurrent droughts have worsened the situation.